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Technical Paper

The Consequences of Average Curve Generation: Implications for Biomechanics Data

One method of understanding the general mechanical response of a complex system such as a vehicle, a human surrogate, a bridge, a boat, a plane, etc., is to subject it to an input, such as an impact, and obtain the response time-histories. The responses can be accelerations, velocities, strains, etc. In general, when experiments of this type are run the responses are contaminated by sample-to-sample variation, test-to-test variability, random noise, instrumentation noise, and noise from unknown sources. One common method of addressing the noise in the system to obtain the underlying response is to run multiple tests on different samples that represent the same system and add them together obtaining an average. This functionally reduces the random noise. However, if the fundamental response of each sample is not the same, then it is not altogether clear what the average represents. It may not capture the underlying physics.